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Showing posts from August, 2009

UK imposes direct rule over Turks & Caicos

Having been in Turks & Caicos twice, and dealt with them to some extent, I can confirm Britain's findings:Britain has imposed direct rule on the Turks and Caicos Islands after an inquiry found evidence of government corruption and incompetence.

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Politicians are accused of selling crown land for personal gain.

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[The British government] examined the actions of the Turks' Cabinet and Assembly and found "information in abundance pointing to a high probability of systematic corruption or serious dishonesty".

It also concluded there were "clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and of a general administrative incompetence".In my experience, this is exactly how it was.

The Turks & Caicos are fortunate. They have a foreign power to watch over them. This same amorality, immaturity, and incompetence takes place all over the Caribbean. Except that, in most places, there's no one to intervene. So it just goes on, and on, and on.

The British are i…

Empathy out of control

To feel joy when others feel joy; to feel pain when others suffer. Every day, our own empathy enriches our experience. It allows us to feel not only for the events that affect ourselves, but also for the many more that affect others. It allows us to immerse ourselves into a story and not only understand it, but feel it - whether we are listening to a friend, watching the news, reading a book, or enjoying a movie.

Empathy connects us. Lacking it, we would be - at best - rational agents acting according to game theory, in a game of repeated Prisoner's Dilemma. We would be alone in a world in which no one feels for us, and we don't feel for anyone; a world inhabited by grayness and indifference.

Many people already live in a world like that. Many people don't have empathy. This doesn't make them broken - only different. Rest assured though, if a creature doesn't feel any empathy for you, you should not feel any empathy for it either.

But this is not an article for them. …

Tales of the Caribbean, #1

Monday

Employee: Boss, I'm in dire need, I'm all out of money. Can I borrow 200 EC dollars?
Boss: Well, I dunno. Your salary is on Friday...
Employee: But I really need the money. I don't have any left.
Boss: Well, that's not how it works. Where's your salary from last Friday? You'll get a new salary on Friday.

Employee: Dear boss's wife! I'm in dire need. Can you lend me 200 EC?
Boss's wife: Well, didn't you get your salary on Friday?
Employee: I did. But I have nothing left.
Boss's wife: Is that so. What you need the money for?
Employee: Well it's urgent. I really need it. I can't buy anything. I need just 200 EC. Can you lend it to me?
Boss's wife: I dunno. Let me talk to my husband.

Boss's wife: Well he says he really needs the money.
Boss: This isn't gonna work out. He spent all last week's salary on booze. Now he's gonna spend more money on booze. What do you think is gonna happen after you lend him the money?
Boss's…

Outlawing lying and deception

I get the impression that a whole lot of bad things that happen in the world are a consequence of, and perpetuated by, lying and deception.

It is curious that neither our legal systems, nor even our religions, have adopted such a prohibition categorically. Even the Ten commandments do not prohibit lying categorically - just testifying falsely against a person.

In the past century, developed countries have started punishing lying and deception when done for profit, to some extent. Scams are frowned upon and eventually might be prosecuted. Companies are beginning to be punished for misrepresentations in their ad campaigns.

In other areas of private and public life, however, lies and deception are not merely permitted, but routine. Politicians are expected to deceive the public and lie to it. Organizations, for profit and otherwise, fund studies which seek not truth, but rather a biased distortion of truth that aligns with their interests. People cherry-pick studies and refer to only those …